How Common Are Falls in Nursing Homes?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 50-75% of nursing home residents fall each year. This is twice the rate at which other older adults fall when living outside of nursing homes.
Falls are a serious — and often recurring — issue that can have permanent mental and physical consequences.
Facts about falling from the CDC:
- About 1,800 people living in nursing homes die from falls each year
- Residents often fall more than once, averaging about 2.6 falls per person per year
- About 35% of nursing home fall injuries occur in patients who cannot walk
- 10-20% of nursing home falls result in serious injury
- Only 5% of adults over the age of 65 live in nursing homes — but nursing home residents in this age group account for 20% of all deaths from falls
Nursing homes must take a proactive approach to fall prevention, finding and eliminating issues that may increase residents’ risk of falling.
Causes of Nursing Home Falls
To understand how nursing homes can better prevent injuries from falls, it’s important to know the most common causes of falls.
- Muscle Weakness: Nursing home residents are more likely to struggle with muscle weakness and difficulty walking than similarly aged peers who live independently. This decreased mobility accounts for about 24% of falls.
- Environmental Hazards: Anywhere from 16-27% of falls occur due to environmental hazards like wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted wheelchairs.
- Certain Medications: Any sedatives or anti-anxiety medications that affect the central nervous system can increase a patient’s risk for falls. This risk is highest in the days just after a change in medication or dosage occurs.
Nursing home staff must be trained to recognize these and other dangers in order to implement effective fall prevention techniques.
How to Prevent Patient Falls in Nursing Homes
Nursing home fall prevention techniques can be implemented on the organizational, staff, and patient levels. The most effective fall prevention programs combine all three in a multidisciplinary effort to protect nursing home patients.
Some common interventions for nursing home falls include:
- Assessing patients after a fall to identify and address risk factors
- Educating staff about fall risk factors and prevention strategies
- Making changes to the environment that make it easier for residents to move around safely
- Reviewing provided medications for potential risk factors
The CDC has found that the use of physical restraints can increase a patient’s risk of fall-related injuries. Despite the fact that restraints increase muscle weakness and reduce physical function, around 10% of nursing homes still use them.
Injuries That Can Occur From Nursing Home Falls
Falls in nursing homes can result in serious injuries that lead to chronic conditions, a loss of physical function, and a dramatically decreased quality of life.
Nursing home falls frequently cause broken or fractured bones. The CDC estimates that 95% of hip fractures are a result of falling. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Some medications, like blood thinners, can increase this risk.
Even if a fall doesn’t result in serious physical injury, many patients face mental health consequences. The fear of another fall can lead to depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation. Patients may also decrease their activity level, which can cause physical weakness that increases their risk of future falls.
Falls can have serious mental and physical consequences for your loved ones. Nursing home residents die from fall-related injuries every year. It is vitally important that nursing homes put the time, energy, and money into protecting their patients from this common danger.
Can You Sue for a Nursing Home Fall?
Many people have successfully filed nursing home abuse lawsuits for falls or fractures. If a nursing home is not taking the necessary steps to protect your loved one from injuries related to nursing home falls, you may consider taking legal action.
A nursing home fall lawsuit can provide necessary financial compensation and may prevent others from suffering similar injuries.
How to Help Your Loved One
When a loved one experiences a fall at their nursing home, it can be hard to know what to do first. Questions of how and why the fall happened can get lost in dealing with more immediate medical concerns.
However, there are steps you can take to help:
- Contact a medical professional to ensure the well-being of your loved one.
- Talk with the nursing home staff about the incident and file a report.
- If you wish to take further action, you can file a nursing home fall lawsuit with an experienced law firm.
If you think your loved one may have been the victim of negligence leading to a fall and you are interested in seeking compensation on their behalf, get a free legal case review today.